There is so much to see and do on a vacation in Portugal! These beautiful top 10 cities in Portugal all have their own unique charm and personality as well as great food, fun attractions, nice weather, lively music scenes and plenty more that’s guaranteed to keep you entertained! Whether you’re looking for history or culture (or some crazy nightlife), these cities are waiting to welcome you with open arms.
Lisbon is the capital city and largest municipality of Portugal with a population of more than 2.5 million people in its metropolitan area and 6.7 million people in its administrative limits at the turn of the 21st century, placing it among the largest cities on the European continent. In general, Lisbon as a whole is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, receiving an average of 7–10 million foreign tourists per year. Lisbon is located in the western Iberian Peninsula on a plateau overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Albufeira is a beach resort town in the Algarve region of southern Portugal, with a population of about 29,000 inhabitants. It’s famous for its long sandy beaches and for hosting one of Europe’s largest carnivals. It has an excellent reputation for nightlife with bars and clubs positioned along what is known as the Albufeira ‘strip’. In terms of water temperature during the summer months, the coastal waters at Albufeira average between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius (64–72 Fahrenheit). The sea temperature reaches 24 degrees in August and September.
Braga is a city in north-western Portugal and one of the oldest cities in the Iberian Peninsula. The origin of its name comes from an ancient Celtic word meaning “hill”, as it has a hilltop location. A mythological legend from ancient times tells that it was created by a Celtic chief called Braca who rested on its rocks after escaping from an enemy tribe.
Braga developed from an historical residence of the royal family of Gallaecia, and was granted city status in the 5th century by King Orosius.
In 868, Braga was already a walled city. The first reference of its castle is from 987, and it was the second most important city of medieval Portugal, after Lisbon.
The ancient history of the city is not well known, but many historians believe that the first settlement was during the Roman Empire. At this time, Guimares was inhabited by Celtic tribes and remained so until the 4th century when it was absorbed into the Roman Empire. The first information about the city comes from the 9th century, and it is known to be a religious center. Its ecclesiastical configuration was based on the existence of a castle or fortress, whose remains are yet to be discovered. In 1093, Guimares was conquered by Count Henry. During the 12th century, a new fortress was built in Guimares and it is known that there were several families who were exiled from the city.
Faro is a city and municipality, the capital of the Algarve region in southern Portugal. The population in 2011 was 65,064, in an area of approximately 202.20 square kilometres (78.05 sq mi). Faro (pronounced ) was also the notably westernmost city among all European medieval capitals whose government was completely run by women-an autonomous priory republic from 1240 to 1269 A.D.
The city was the capital of the first Portuguese territorial entity of the Algarve, which initially included most of the southern Portuguese territories. It has been the capital of the Algarve since 1269, when it became a borough (vila) within the Kingdom of Portugal. The urban area of the city has a population of 28,342 inhabitants (Census 2001), representing 19.3% of its administrative area — 91,723 inhabitants (28.6%).
It’s a small, seaside city in the middle of the country with a population of about 150 thousand people. The city has been around for centuries and there are many buildings from different eras which still stand today. Coimbra is very traditional and conservative because it’s an old town where the majority of the people have been living their whole lives. Coimbra is a famous University city, with one of the oldest university in Portugal it’s their equivalent of Oxford or Cambridge. It’s one of my favourite cities in Portugal.
The Portuguese town of Evora, which is in the province of Alentejo, has Roman origins and has been occupied by many different cultures. It is a Historical-Cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site. One can visit Romanesque churches, Roman ruins and a Moorish palace. One of the most famous sites of Evora is the ‘chapel of bones’ — Capela dos Ossos.
Packed with stunning architecture and picturesque streets, it is also one of the prettiest cities in the world. With its own unique culture, language, and customs — not to mention being a great place for foodies and wine lovers — it’s no wonder that this town has seen an increase in tourism every year.
Along the River Douro, Porto is one of the few places in Europe to have preserved its medieval charm. It is an outstanding example of the interchange between traditional architecture and modern styles.
Its urban layout reflects the importance given to commerce and trade throughout history. The city is also home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites: The Dom Luis I Bridge, Ribeira Square, and The Historic Center of Porto.
Looking for the perfect city to visit in Portugal? Check out Funchal, the capital of Madeira. This lively and charming town has an excellent range of hotels and restaurants, a beautiful historic centre, and some fabulous beaches not too far away.
Funchal is very hilly, which means that walking is the best way to see the city’s beautiful historic buildings and cobbled streets. The best way to get to Funchal is by ferry from the mainland in the southern port of Lisbon. If you have time, there are also ferries from Spain and Morocco. Funchal airport has flights to London, Madrid, Madeira and many European destinations.
Tomar is an old Portuguese city that was founded by the Templars in 1129. It is one of the most important historical centers of Portugal and it currently has around 20,000 inhabitants. The city, which is located on the shores of Rio Duoro, has been classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because it includes several outstanding examples of medieval architecture. One of Portugal’s best-preserved medieval fortified towns on the banks of the Rio Nabão, Tomar is a fascinating combination of nature and culture. Its history was shaped by religious orders — from the Templars to today’s Knights Templar — during eight hundred years. Tomar was also a place where Portuguese explorers sailed to Africa in search for spices and riches.